The AstroLab is a 3rd year option of our Physics & Astronomy and Physics degrees in which students undertaken projects in observational astronomy using telescopes on the Physics building roof. Students undertake a variety of projects which range from the tracking of near-earth asteroids to the measurement of Hubble's constant via the study of supernovae. All projects focus on the dynamical nature of the universe.
Since 1993 over 250,000 CCD images have been taken on our four undergraduate telescopes for project work. Over 300 different minor planets and comets have been observed.
In 2010/11 we updated the domes of two of our telescopes (east-14 and west-12) to allow for remote/robotic operation. These telescopes are now housed in 10' domes from Technical Innovations (TI), have QSI 583ws CCD detectors and are controlled with a set of routines written in Python plus Tkinter working under Fedora
In summer 2012 we replaced our old Far-East dome (circ. 1970) with a 15' TI dome. This dome now houses a 14-inch Meade (far-east-14) and can be used for remote/robotic operation just like east-14 and west-12.
Our first remote/robotic facility, DRACO, was commissioned in 2002. This consisted of a 10-inch Meade LX200 housed in a TI RoboDome. After ten years of highly successful service, and with over 57,000 images taken, DRACO was decommissioned in 2012. The replacement DRACO2 (14-inch Meade in a 6' dome from TI) is currently being installed.
We also have a part share in a 0.5m telescope on La Palma which is queue scheduled to provide data for student projects.
Astronomy Picture of the Day